Yukio Hatoyama, former Japanese prime minister, visited the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre yesterday and apologized for the massacre conducted by the Japanese army during World War II. On Wednesday, he stated that he recognized the Diaoyu Islands dispute between China and Japan, which is different from Japan's official hard-line attitude. Hatoyama has attracted lots of criticizes on the Internet in Japan.
Hatoyama was the first prime minister from the Democratic Party of Japan. Of course, he cannot represent the Japanese government because he has been out of office for more than two years. However, he is an influential politician in Japan instead of just a lone individual. He has his followers behind him.
During his period in office, Hatoyama promoted the rethinking of Japan's strategic role in East Asia in Japan's political and academic circles. The proposal of a "Japan-US-China equilateral triangle" diplomatic policy was raised at that time. But it was soon suppressed by Japan's rightist tendencies.
However, Hatoyama's words and deeds these days show that in spite of the tough environment, forces which are friendly to China have not disappeared. Japan's rightist tendencies have not developed to an extreme. China and Japan still have other choices other than confrontation.
China cannot change its policies toward Japan just because of some words from Hatoyama, who is out of power. As long as Abe's hard-line policies exist, the Chinese government should give tit for tat. But Hatoyama's words remind us that we should give corresponding encouragement and response to friendly gesture among Japan's public.
We should also actively encourage people who are friendly to Japan and can effectively communicate with sympathetic people in Japan. It is a good sign that Chinese society is very united when it comes to issues related to Japan. However, such unison should be more open and can accommodate various feelings and strategies toward Japan, including providing more space for activities to people who are friendly to Japan.
This is an indispensable part of China's overall diplomacy and China's social diversification. We should protect people and organizations which promote Sino-Japanese friendship especially when confrontation dominates the relationship between China and Japan.
China has already become the dominant player in the future direction of Sino-Japanese relations. We should not give up reaching out to friendly forces in Japan no matter how rightist Japan is. Japanese people's thinking may change with the further rise of China. Historically, Japan's mainstream public opinion always follows the global powers. Its will to stand against China is not unchangeable.
Given the huge amount and complex structure of the interests, China's policies toward Japan should be unswerving. However, when carrying out these policies, it is not as simple as shouting slogans. The more confident China is, the better we can deal with Japan by various methods.
Besides never giving way to Japan in both the waters and airspace of the Diaoyu Islands, we can find more ways to deal with Japan.
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